Hot-Shooting First Half Sees Panthers Past College of Charleston
Photo: Jordan Crawford of THERSdayNight.com
After an electrifying offensive showcase in the first half, Georgia State (6-1) had to rely on their defense in the second half to stave off College of Charleston (2-5), eventually holding on for a comfortable 72-55 win. With the win, the Panthers sweep their home non-conference slate with a perfect 4-0 record and improve to 6-1 on the season, which is the third-best seven-game start to a season in school history. That record is only topped by the 2000-2001 Panthers and the 1975-1976 Panthers, who each started 7-0. Justin Roberts and Corey Allen co-led all scorers with 20 points. Roberts also added six assists while Allen continued his strong sharpshooting start to the season with a 6-of-7 shooting night from downtown. Payton Willis led the Cougars with 15 points.
The Panthers took a 43-28 lead into halftime after shooting 65% through the game’s first 20 minutes and they led by as much as 17 early in the second half before the Cougars began to chip away. Stingy defense and four straight three-pointers for Charleston cut what had been a safe Georgia State lead down to 52-47 with 11:13 to go. But the Panthers turned to some strong defense of their own to grab the game back. They induced the Cougars into a scoring drought of three minutes, 48 seconds after the lead had shrunk to 5 and went on an 8-0 run during that time to restore their double-digit advantage. Georgia State never led by less than 11 the rest of the way and Corey Allen’s fifth and sixth made threes of the night with under two minutes to go well and truly put the game away.
Georgia State head coach Rob Lanier was happy with the test his team received tonight from Charleston, saying, “I think one of the things that can help sometimes when you’re going into the holidays, one way to keep their focus is to play a really good team.” He went to say that he had “a lot of respect” for Charleston head coach Earl Grant and the Cougars program, saying, “They had lost a couple of games, so we expected a level of fight that we got from them today.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming Sun Belt conference schedule, Coach Lanier said tonight’s game was “the most like a Sun Belt game of any of [Georgia State’s] games this year, so it was a good test for us in a lot of ways,” specifically mentioning Charleston’s ability to slow the pace in the second half.
Aggressive offensive play from Justin Roberts set the tone early for Georgia State. He led all scorers with 13 first-half points and dishing out 5 assists. A pair of three-pointers by the junior from Indianapolis on consecutive possessions pushed a four-point Georgia State lead up to 26-16 with 9:10 left in the half. From that point, the Panthers led by double digits much of the rest of the half. The lead got as big as 16 when a Collin Moore three-point play made it 38-22 with 3:45 to go in the half. A Lorenzo Edwards three-pointer for the Cougars cut the deficit to 40-28 with 25 seconds to go in the half, but Corey Allen canceled that out with a three-pointer of his own as time expired to restore a 15-point Georgia State lead at halftime.
Coach Lanier was proud that the team played their full non-conference schedule, saying in his opening postgame remarks, “We scheduled seven games. We were able to play ‘em all.” Asked later about his takeaways from the non-conference games, he re-emphasized that point, saying, “Playing the games give you the opportunity to develop your team.” He went on, “From that standpoint, I do think we’ve made some strides. Without the games, we wouldn’t have that developmental process… We’ve been able to illustrate through the experiences we’ve had what it is we’re capable of becoming and the things that go into winning.”
Georgia State is now idle for the rest of 2020. The Panthers pick up their schedule again on New Year’s Day, when they start Sun Belt conference play in Conway, SC as part of a back-to-back with Coastal Carolina. The first tipoff of 2021 will be at 6pm EST and the game can be seen on ESPN+.